Bites Book Club: Cocktails and Whiskey

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It probably comes as no surprise to regular Bites readers that I have a fairly deep library of cocktail and spirits books. It's true, cold drinks are hot right now, so there are lots of cool books hitting the market. (Including a couple we told you about last month.) Two more fun spirits-related books have recently crossed my desk.

The first is titled The Architecture of the Cocktail: Constructing the Perfect Cocktail from the Bottom Up. Written by Amy Zavatto and meticulously illustrated by Melissa Wood, this book portrays 75 classic and modern cocktail recipes in architectural renderings, with each element of the drink represented by unique patterns and labels to indicate the amounts and proportions.

The result is a blueprint to the perfect cocktail, and Wood even sells a poster version of several drinks, which would be a wonderful decoration for any home bar. More than just a novelty book, this handy tome could be a guide for mixologists who are particularly technically minded.

Each cocktail recipe includes instructions for the proper glassware, ice and whether to mix, shake, strain or stir. The book concludes with a guide to specific stemware and the properties that each imparts to a proper cocktail. For $16, this would be a great gift for any spirits enthusiast.

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Not everybody likes their spirits mixed, though, and Daniel Yaffe has written a fun ode to America's hottest liquor with his book Drink More Whiskey: Everything You Need to Know About Your New Favorite Drink.

Yaffe is more casual and less academic than most of the recent liquor writers who have addressed the subject. Rather than getting too technical about mash bills, smoky peats or barrel char levels, he talks about whiskey to the reader like a couple of friends chatting at a bar. His personal opinions do leak into his commentary, but they come from tasting lots of whiskey at all hours of the night.

Yaffe does share the basics of whiskey production and how to taste and appreciate a fine brown liquor. Several whiskey-centric cocktail recipes are also included, but the emphasis is definitely on what's in the big bottle, not the mixers. He sums up his philosophy thusly, "The more you taste, the more you know — and the more you'll enjoy your drink. Drink more whiskey! It's that simple."

That sounds like somebody I'd like to share a flask with.

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